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Caroline Herring

WELLSPRING (Blue Corn) • Caroline Herring

We thought Caroline sounded like a star on her debut, but a full year of growing acclaim has deepened the resolve in her unmistakable vocal tone.

Tonight I wanna be a strong Colorado woman
I don't wanna be your Mississippi girl
There are times I need you to hold on to
This time I gotta hold on by myself

I like the brand of womanhood she's selling in her songs. It's classic, it's southern like dirt, not like Duke. Though the story does go that she went to Austin for a Ph.D., it was in American Studies, which seems to have ended up to be her major, at any musical rate. (Southern Studies at Ole Miss was the undergrad preface.) Her early fans and encouragers included Peter Rowan, Tish Hinojosa, and Ray Wylie Hubbard, and she walked away with various Austin honors when Twilight hit the streets in earnest and she hit the road.

There is a hint of aristocracy in her high alto, but it's pleasing to this listener's ear. Her good looks are superseded both by her posture and her intonation. And the songs of Caroline Herring are rich in a life lived, not merely conjured. The melodies are inventive but natural, never leaping or reaching in a studied manner.

Most importantly, her lyrics have grown still deeper and more poetic than on her impressive debut, and that tells the tale of what she's after. I hear a lot of passion here, but it's tempered, fired by an instinctive Southern grace that runs deep and molds it to its will. But I love where she's going, and how she's getting there.

I should have been ashamed
I should have been mortified
I should have hung my head
Dug me a hole and climbed inside
But the crumbs from the table
Kept me satisfied

Like many great acoustic based artists, in a different time her career might have taken right off. But these are vapid times, when "Beer for My Horses" spends 6 weeks and counting at #1. But it's also a time when little labels like Blue Corn and Dualtone and Compadre are finding their way into the black and beyond, by first of all never going too far in the red. So we as listeners, consumers, and lovers of good music spread the word to each other. Check out the still rising and very deserving Caroline Herring on the Listen page, and buy Wellspring here.

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